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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 10, 2000. All rights reserved.
Between the Lines
Even before the "I love you" virus struck last
week, U.S. 1 was embroiled in its own E-mail odyssey. We had chosen
that fateful time to install an E-mail server, a central computer
that would not only send and receive E-mail but also drop those lovely
little messages directly on the recipient’s desk and allow everyone
to send mail and reach the Internet, as well — all from the comfort
of their individual workstation.
All of this comes out of the box touted by the manufacturer and developer
as "plug and play." In reality, of course, it is plug and
prayer — and then call in your network consultant to try to make
sense out of the chaos. So last week the bad news for us was that
chaos. The good news was that same chaos, which meant that at the
very moment the "I love you" virus struck here, our consultant
was already on the premises.
The chaos made us consider a few harsh realities concerning E-mail.
First is that our policy of not opening attachments from unknown correspondents
seems more practical than ever. We instituted the policy not to protect
us from viruses but rather to save ourselves from the frustration
of trying to open files transmitted in formats that defy our existing
Next comes the observation that your precious E-mail — once arriving
at our desktop (and assuming that we can read it) — essentially
gets one reading and one reading only by the person who opens it.
A fax, in contrast, gets read by the person who collects it and then
by the person to whom it is directed. The fax, moreover, can sometimes
be targeted for several people to read, relevant passages are highlighted,
and so on. Call us lazy, but the fact is that our editors seldom print
out E-mail messages and then give them the same "hard copy"
treatment that they give the old fashioned fax or snail mail.
Finally we have to dispel a myth about E-mail: Even though our editorial
deadlines are firmly stated in each issue, we now have a growing number
of people who think that E-mail can somehow be instantly transformed
into the (usually) tight and bright writing that fills these pages.
That it cannot probably frustrates us more than you.
THE SECOND SET of hearings on re-franchising RCN will be held at the
Princeton Township offices on Valley Road on Tuesday, May 16, at 8
p.m. Why bother to come? At least two reasons stand out. At the Borough
meeting RCN representatives were apparently stunned at the large hostile
turnout. As a result the Joint TV-Cable Committee is already finding
that their requests for help, so long ignored, are now being responded
to promptly by RCN personnel.
But there are even better reasons. We are surrounded by Comcast, which
offers superior service at lower prices. Comcast has indicated that
if invited it will make a presentation to also offer its service in
Princeton. Another good turnout will encourage the Joint Committee
to demand more in its RCN negotiations.
And in addition to asking RCN about its high prices and shortcomings,
let’s also ask them why Comcast can supply its subscribers with two-way
cable modems and RCN cannot.
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